Women’s Suffrage Parade, Chicago, 12 May 1914, courtesy of the Library of Congress, American Memory.
In response to the Seneca Falls Convention a few weeks earlier in which Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton led a group of women to write the Declaration of Sentiments and an accompanying list of resolutions, our very own Cambridge Chronicle did a humorous piece, titled the “Rights of Women!,” published on August 10, 1848. What looks like fictitious letters to the editor were sent in from Cantabrigians who feared the worst if women were given equal rights to men. The entire article can be read here.
For a real laugh, read the anonymous excerpt below: (Note the implication of cuckoldry.)
“I am a married man, Sir; an undoubted married man, Sir; a married married man without redemption, Sir! And you, sir, have made me so. I have been married eighteen months, and up to last week deemed myself the happiest married man in the world, Sir. I really, Sir, took the supremest delight in dandling our little Ned, not on my left knee, Sir, not on my right knee, Sir, but Sir, on both knees. But my real and anticipated happiness is gone- gone- gone, like the speculator’s farm, Sir, under the rap of your auctioneer hammer, Sir-Sir! That article has spoiled my wife, Sir, and hen-pecked me, Sir! Ever since last Thursday, Sir, the deuce has trod roughshod in my domestic circle, Sir. The exstacy of dandling Ned of my own free will has gone. My wife has read the Declaration of women’s rights, and she is now showing off her airs upon me, – me who took her for better or – worse, – me who married her for love, – me, her miserable husband!
Why, Sir, it’s now – “Get up and prepare the breakfast; sweep out and dust the rooms; feed Ned; make the beds.” After breakfast, its – “Stay at home and take care of Ned; I’ll attend to business in town; wash the clothes cook the dinner, and be sure to have it on the table precisely at noon, for I can’t be kept waiting in these ever memorable days of woman’s redemption.” After dinner, its “Dress yourself up; stay in the parlor; Miss Spriggins and Madam Jiggins and Squire Pliggins and Parson Biggins will all call this afternoon, and you must receive them while I am at work preparing my resolutions for the convention; and don’t fail to have tea ready by seven o’clock.” After tea, its’ – “The convention meets this evening; a new platform of women’s rights is to be discussed, and I am on the committee of five hundred to report it.; put Ned to bed early, and if he cries, give him a spoonfull of parregoric, or walk with him until I come home, which I hope to do as early as midnight ; leave the door unlocked, and if you hear four steps instead of two, only imagine it’s the chairwoman of the convention seeing me safe home.”
Here I am, Sir, all on account of you, Sir. I obey to the letter all that I am told, hoping for peace but finding none. I even wash the pots and kettles, and sing (or rather howl) lullabies to make Ned sleep; but nothing goes right. It’s convention all day and all night. If I ask my wife to read as she used to, before you interfered with your editorial humbug on women’s rights, she pulls out a string of resolutions, or the notes of a speech, or an extract from some French or German authoress, or a torn chapter from Miss Margaret Fuller, or a leaf from Mrs. Candle, and all is over with me! Oh, Sir, guilty as you are in thus paving the way for my wretchedness, you cannot be made to know the tithe of my agony! I sleep on needles, Sir! ; I walk on needles, Sir; I sit on needles, Sir! My whole life is a needle – a darning need, Sir! – that punctures me at every point; and all because of your article, Sir! I hope to get used to it. Only eighteen months of married existence gone, and half a century to Come! I call philosophy ot my aid, but as yet it eludes my grasp. I read Bishop Berkely, – I mean when Ned is asleep – and labor to think that women is not an entity, that tongues are nothing but sound, that needles have no points, and that I am neither a husband nor a man; but thus far I have read in vain. I hope to get used to it. Can you tell me, Sir, when the convention meets? Yours, &c.”
**A special thanks to Sarah Burks at the Cambridge Historical Commission for pointing out this article.**